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About one in five incarcerated in Michigan prisons have been infected since pandemic began

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio

Across the state, more than 1,200 people in Michigan prisons are infected right now. Almost all of them are in four prisons: Marquette, Newberry, and two facilities in Ionia.

Chris Gautz is the spokesperson for the Department of Corrections. He says only a handful have had to be hospitalized.

“There were just nine who were in the hospital. And it’s a good sign that those who have had the virus and are testing positive currently have largely been asymptomatic, or if they do have symptoms, they’ve been mild enough that they can be treated at the facility that they’re at,” said Chris Gautz, spokesperson for the Department of Corrections.

The agency shares the latest numbers of cases with prisoners and reminds them to wear the masks they’ve been provided.

“We’ve been hearing a lot of rumors that prisoners are spreading that, you know, once you have it, you’re immune, you can’t get it again. And we’ve had to put in reminders about reinfection, what the CDC says about the infections and that it is a possibility. That’s why you have to keep wearing your mask,” Gautz said.

About one out of every five prisoners has been infected since the pandemic began. 74 have died.

Corrections staff have also been hit by the coronavirus. At one point, nearly half the staff at one prison either had COVID-19 or had been exposed to someone who had the infection and had to quarantine.

Since the pandemic began, three staffers have died.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Public from 1998-2010.
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